Monday, April 7, 2014

True Fellowship

The Lord led my wife and I to study the meaning of true Fellowship this weekend, and we ended up sharing what we learned with the group of believers we relate to in our home on Saturday night.   I can honestly say, we enjoyed true fellowship that night, and we were truly encouraged by what we are seeing.  The Lord is opening our eyes to so many things, and this issue of Fellowship is just one of them. 

I had been pondering a statement made by Bryon Wiebold of Forerunner Ministries in Texas.  He said, "we don't gather for fellowship, we gather because we already have Fellowship".  This statement prompted my wife and I to study out the word "fellowship" as it is used in the Bible.  My wife and I love to re-think and re-discover what the Bible really says about many words or subjects that many times have lost their meaning since we have been in "church" for a while.  Religious thinking, or familiarity sets in and we can stop thinking about what we are saying or hearing.  We learned that true Fellowship is much more than just getting together to discuss life, religion, sports, or politics.  Fellowship is also more than getting together to "do" religious things like prayer, worship, bible study, etc.

The greek word for Fellowship is Koinonia, and it is used in several ways throughout the New Testament.  It means to partake, participate in, have in common, and can also be translated as the  word "communion".  We discovered from 1 John 1:3-7 that before we can enjoy fellowship with others, we must first have fellowship with the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ. It is impossible to have Christian fellowship with someone who does not have true fellowship with God first!! 

1 John 1:3
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

1 John 1:6,7
 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Our fellowship with God will be manifested in whether we are walking in the light of God's love.  Then, our fellowship with each other will be manifested in our love for each other!

1 John 2:9
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.

In 1 Corinthians, the word "Koinonia" sheds further light on how we see and relate to the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:16,17
16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.

The word for "participation" used in this passage is, you guessed it: Koinonia.  As believers, we enjoy true fellowship because we have each been baptized into the body of Christ.  We are participants of being part of the body of Christ because we have each eaten of his flesh and drank of his blood.  In a spiritual manner, we have allowed the very essence of Christ to enter into us and he has made each of us members of his body. 

Our fellowship with the Head(Christ) determines our fellowship with the rest of the body.  We are each participants(Koinonia) in the body and blood of Christ.

The last instance of the word Koinonia I want to share is in 2 Peter 1:3,4
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

The word "participate" here is of course the grk. word Koinonia.  This is perhaps the greatest revelation of all I discovered when doing this study.  Not only do we have fellowship with God because we are in the light of his love, and because we are now members of his body.  We have fellowship with God and each other because we now have his very nature imparted to us!!  We love  each other because it is now our nature to love!  We share gifts of the spirit with one another because his Spirit is now one with our Spirit!  We now share the same Father!  We are members of the same family!  We are sons of God, just like Christ, the firstborn son!  Does this mean we "are" God?  No, but it does mean we are now "like" God in the sense that he has imparted his very nature and essence into us.  We are no longer of Adam, we are of Christ.  We no longer have a dead Spirit, our Spirit is alive to God, energized and full of the Life of God.  Our life-source and nature no longer comes from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil(Adam), our life-source is now the tree of Life(Christ)!

This is what forms the basis of our fellowship with other believers.  Our fellowship is not based around believing the same doctrines, praying the same way, worshiping the same songs, attending the same "church".  Our fellowship is based on our new nature and our new relational position with the Father.  We are new creations - the old has passed away and the new has come!  Our fellowship(Koinonia) is based around "who" we have become and who we have relationship with(the Father), not based around what we "do".  What we do as the Church flows out of who we now are, and the direct connection we have with the head.  We are no longer "sinners", we are "saints".  We no longer have a "sinful" nature, we have God's divine nature of pure, spotless, holy, Love.  As Bryon Wiebold says in this blog post, we are no longer "Apples", we are "Oranges".  Apples vs Oranges

Do we still struggle with the flesh?  Of course. In our Soul, the mind, will, and emotions we still struggle with ingrained patterns of behavior, fears, and areas of our heart that need to be surrendered to Jesus Christ daily.  We can still allow sin into our soul and practice sin, but it is now a foreign invader that has no right to be there.  We are not defined by that sin any longer, we are defined by what God says about us. We are now Sons of God, members of Christ's body, new creation Spirit-men(and women), free from the law of sin and death. 

This is what Jesus died for - this is what his body is all about - this is what true fellowship is based upon.